Nashville Skyline

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Nashville Skyline
Dylan looking down at the camera while holding a guitar, smiling, and doffing his cap
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released April 9, 1969 (1969-04-09)
Recorded February 12–21, 1969
Genre Country rock, country
Length 27:14
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston
Bob Dylan chronology
John Wesley Harding
(1967)John Wesley Harding1967
Nashville Skyline
Self Portrait
(1970)Self Portrait1970
Singles from Nashville Skyline
  1. "I Threw It All Away"/"Drifter's Escape"
    Released: May 1969
  2. "Lay Lady Lay"/"Peggy Day"
    Released: July 1969
  3. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"/"Country Pie"
    Released: October 1969

Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 9, 1969, by Columbia Records as LP record, reel to reel tape and audio cassette.

Building on the rustic style he experimented with on John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline displayed a complete immersion into country music. Along with the more basic lyrical themes, simple songwriting structures, and charming domestic feel, it introduced audiences to a radically new singing voice from Dylan, who had temporarily quit smoking[1]—a soft, affected country croon. Rumors have long persisted that Dylan might have had his voice sped up slightly on the final recordings to make it sound cleaner and clearer.[2] Clark Entertainment Group recovered the Columbia master tapes from the recording sessions from a warehouse in Nashville. On samples of the tapes posted to youtube in 2015, Dylan's voice sounds similar in pitch and tone to the album released in 1969. [3] Pitch alteration would have had to occur, if at all, during the original sessions.

The result received a generally positive reaction from critics, and was a commercial success. Reaching number 3 in the U.S., the album also scored Dylan his fourth UK No. 1 album.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[4]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[5]
MusicHound Rock 3.5/5[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[7]

By the time Nashville Skyline was recorded, the political climate in the United States had grown more polarized. In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy (a leading candidate for the presidency) were both assassinated. Riots had broken out in several major cities, including a major one surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and a number of racially motivated riots spurred by King's assassination. A new President, Richard Nixon, was sworn into office in January 1969, but the U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia, particularly the Vietnam War, would continue for several more years. Protests over a wide range of political topics became more frequent. Dylan had been a leading cultural figure, noted for his political and social commentary throughout the 1960s. Even as he moved away from topical songs, he never lost his cultural stature. However, as Clinton Heylin would write about Nashville Skyline, "if Dylan was concerned about retaining a hold on the rock constituency, making albums with Johnny Cash in Nashville was tantamount to abdication in many eyes."[8]

Helped by a promotional appearance on The Johnny Cash Show on June 7, Nashville Skyline went on to become one of Dylan's best-selling albums. Three singles were pulled from it, all of which received significant airplay on AM radio.

Despite the dramatic, commercial shift in direction, the press also gave Nashville Skyline a warm reception. A critic for Newsweek wrote of "the great charm... and the ways Dylan, both as composer and performer, has found to exploit subtle differences on a deliberately limited emotional and verbal scale."[9] In Rolling Stone, Paul Nelson wrote, "Nashville Skyline achieves the artistically impossible: a deep, humane, and interesting statement about being happy. It could well be... his best album."[10] However, Nelson would retract his opinion in a review for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II less than three years later, writing, "I was misinformed. That's why no one should pay any attention to critics, especially the artist."[11] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau argued that "the beauty of the album" was in the "totally undemanding" and "one-dimensional" quality of the songs, believing Dylan had toyed with the public's expectations again by embracing a country tenor voice and aesthetic. In Christgau's opinion, "he has gone to country music because it is a repository of Jeffersonian values" of rugged individualism, anti-statism, and masculine compassion. "But he has no apparent interest in exposing, or even understanding, their subversion. For although country music appears Jeffersonian, it is really Jacksonian--intensely chauvinistic, racist, majority-oriented, and antiaristocratic in the worst as well as the best sense. That is to say, it voices both sides of populism: the democratic and the fascistic."[12]

A few critics expressed some disappointment. Ed Ochs of Billboard wrote, "the satisfied man speaks in clichés, and blushes as if every day were Valentine's Day." Tim Souster of the BBC's The Listener magazine wrote, "One can't help feeling something is missing. Isn't this idyllic country landscape too good to be true?"[13]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bob Dylan. [14]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Girl from the North Country" (duet with Johnny Cash) 3:41
2. "Nashville Skyline Rag" 3:12
3. "To Be Alone with You" 2:07
4. "I Threw It All Away" 2:23
5. "Peggy Day" 2:01
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Lay Lady Lay" 3:18
2. "One More Night" 2:23
3. "Tell Me That It Isn't True" 2:41
4. "Country Pie" 1:37
5. "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" 3:23




Year Chart Position
1969 Billboard 200 3[citation needed]
1969 UK Top 75[15] 1
Year Single Chart Position
1969 "I Threw it All Away" Billboard Hot 100 85[citation needed]
1969 "I Threw it All Away" UK Top 100 30[citation needed]
1969 "Lay Lady Lay" Billboard Hot 100 7[citation needed]
1969 "Lay Lady Lay" UK Top 75 5[citation needed]
1969 "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" Billboard Hot 100 50[citation needed]
1969 "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" UK Top 75[citation needed]


  1. ^ How Bob Dylan Found His New Voice on 'Nashville Skyline' - Rolling Stone
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Nashville Skyline". AllMusic. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (October 25, 1992). "Dylan Through the Years: Hits and Misses". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
  6. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 371. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  7. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian (eds) (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York, NY: Fireside. p. 262. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ Heylin (2003), p. 301.
  9. ^ Quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 302.
  10. ^ Nelson, Paul (31 May 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (34): 36. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  11. ^ Nelson, Paul (January 6, 1972). "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 1969). "Obvious Believers". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
  13. ^ Both quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 303.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Chart Stats – Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline". Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
Preceded by
On the Threshold of a Dream by The Moody Blues
UK Albums Chart number-one album
May 24 – June 21, 1969
Succeeded by
His Orchestra, His Chorus, His Singers, His Sound by Ray Conniff